Korky: I was brought up in Zimbabwe and there were seven of us in my family so it was difficult to read aloud to us all. There weren't that many picture books around in the Fifties in Zimbabwe. My favourite was Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter, which was really frightening. It's a lot of stories written in rhyme on moral issues, like the tale of the boy who sucks his thumb until this man with long scissors - a sort of precursor to Edward Scissorhands - comes and cuts off his thumbs. It's an extraordinary book. I don't think it would be accepted today, but I have a copy and my kids read it. The Water Babies was read to me a lot, and Alice in Wonderland and quite a few of Enid Blyton's Noddy books and the William books of course.
I read to Zoe far less now that she reads for herself. I think she actually prefers to read on her own. So I'll read to Oscar, who's five. He likes Tony Ross, Roald Dahl and Colin Macnaughton. Zoe's got on to the Famous Five things, but they're so old-fashioned. I remember her saying to me "What's a nursery?"
Pictures are very important. I remember at home we had illustrated editions of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories and The Jungle Book, which were read to me. Living in Zimbabwe made it very real, especially the Just So Stories with the "great grey-green greasy Limpopo". They were written to be read aloud - all that wonderful alliteration. I'm reading those to my children, although unfortunately I don't have the editions we had when I was small: my other brothers and sisters have got them in Africa.
When our kids were tiny we might have been reading books such as Winnie the Pooh, that were over their heads, but their attention was held by the great pictures and the sound of the prose - especially the way Pooh spoke, with his "bear of little brain". Repetitive little phrases like that draw you in.
We use tapes a lot in the car and sometimes my daughter and listen to a tape in bed rather than read a book. I don't think tapes and books are mutually exclusive, or that one is going to kill the other; they are such different things. The CD-Rom thing is not at all like a book; you have to sit at a desk, you've got the keyboard. A book is a much more intimate thing; you cuddle up into bed after you've had your supper. There is more time then, and it's a quiet time at the end of the day.
Zoe: I like to have tapes because they get through a book quicker. Sometimes I like books better, but usually I like tapes better because you can carry on listening to them in bed until you go to sleep. Mum and Dad used to read to me until I fell asleep. They sometimes read to me now, but I usually read to myself. When I was a bit smaller I liked to have Dad's books read to me, and I liked Winnie the Pooh and Dr Doolittle and I used to love Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss books.
I sometimes read to my brother, Oscar. He likes Pingu and Postman Pat. I'm not sure about reading to my brother, 'cause he's kind of restless. He does listen sometimes, but he's not that brilliant at listening and I don't really like the books that he reads - he likes picture books because he gets frustrated without pictures. But he's OK sometimesReuse content